Tag Archives: Mystery

Review of A Spy in the House by Y.S. Lee

A Spy in the House (The Agency, #1)A Spy in the House (The Agency #1) by Y.S. Lee

Published: March 9, 2010
Genre: Young Adult Mystery/Historical Fiction
Pages: 335
Source: Bought

Rescued from the gallows in 1850s London, young orphan (and thief) Mary Quinn is surprised to be offered a singular education, instruction in fine manners — and an unusual vocation. Miss Scrimshaw’s Academy for Girls is a cover for an all-female investigative unit called The Agency, and at seventeen, Mary is about to put her training to the test. Assuming the guise of a lady’s companion, she must infiltrate a rich merchant’s home in hopes of tracing his missing cargo ships. But the household is full of dangerous deceptions, and there is no one to trust — or is there? Packed with action and suspense, banter and romance, and evoking the gritty backstreets of Victorian London, this breezy mystery debuts a daring young detective who lives by her wits while uncovering secrets — including those of her own past. (Goodreads)



This is one of those books that I sort of dread writing a review for because although I enjoyed it, it didn’t leave a lasting impression on me and I don’t have much to say about it. I’ve been interested in reading this book for a while, and a lot of people have said they love the series. It sounded like something different from what I usually read, so I picked it up on a whim.

I think the first thing that I noticed is the time period. As soon as I started reading it I was reminded of (yep, you guessed it), Downton Abbey (the only thing I talk about on this blog as of late). I guess it’s just because they’re around the same era, so it was the first thing my mind connected to. I also noticed that the book as a whole felt a bit immature and young. I think this has something to do with the reservedness and simplicity of the time period this book is set in, as well as the writing. I would easily recommend this one to preteens as well as teens because it was relatively uncomplicated and light.

Like I mentioned before, nothing about this book was particularly memorable. The characters were interesting enough, and the plot was intriguing,  but the whole thing felt rather juvenile. It wasn’t boring, though. Seeing as mystery a genre I don’t often read, and am not very interested in, this book did a god job keeping  my attention. It was not predictable and I never dreaded picking it up (although I could just as easily put it aside for a while). It’s one of those books where you don’t have to think very hard, and I could count on it to be a quick escape.

Personally I would recommend this to younger teens, but I’ve heard many adults say they enjoy the series as well, so who am I to call it juvenile? I also think this is an excellent book if, like me, you don’t read much mystery but are ready to try something new. It’s a nice blend of historical fiction and mystery, and is an easy and light read. I doubt I’ll remember much from this book, but I’ll definitely consider picking up the sequel next time I’m looking for a fun, different read.

3.5 birds

Mhm. Okay. Flip a coin. Heads – bird wins. Tails – it’s mine.

Review of Dead to You by Lisa McMann

Dead to You
Dead to You by Lisa McMann
Goodreads | Amazon

Publisher: Simon Pulse
Release Date: Feb. 7th 2012
Pages: 243
Reading Level: Young Adult

Ethan was abducted from his front yard when he was just seven years old. Now, at sixteen, he has returned to his family. It’s a miracle… at first. Then the tensions start to build. His reintroduction to his old life isn’t going smoothly, and his family is tearing apart all over again. If only Ethan could remember something, anything, about his life before, he’d be able to put the pieces back together. But there’s something that’s keeping his memory blocked. Something unspeakable…

My Thoughts

I didn’t have huge expectations of this book, so maybe that’s why I enjoyed it so much. I’ve read Wake (so-so) and Cryer’s Cross (good), and while I was hoping to like this book, I wasn’t expecting anything spectacular. And while it may not be the best book I’ve ever read, I really enjoyed it.

Ethan is faced with this insane situation – being returned to your family after having been abducted nine years ago. I thought perhaps we’d get a lot of that teen angst, no one understands me, I’m just going to sulk because poor me, I’ve had it harder than anyone else in this family. But, surprisingly, Ethan is really kind. He loves is mom, and forms such a great friendship with 6 year old Gracie. I liked his character, for the most part. Sometimes when he lost control I was a bit upset, but I understand that he can’t always be perfect.

As far as plot goes, I thought it was creative overall but maybe a bit predictable within itself. See, the whole idea of Ethan being returned, and him not being able to remember his past life, had me captured. But when you get into the whole idea of it, and the way she could have taken the plot, I think McMann played it fairly safe. There were some surprises and mild twists, but overall it was sort of tame. Then, the ending. Honestly, I was hoping for it to continue, but it didn’t – and now I’m hoping for a sequel. McMann leaves the book completely hanging, and I really want to know what happens next. This is perfect if there is a sequel, but as far as I am aware, there isn’t, so I am a little disappointed. I think if she was set on that big twist, then ideally for me it would’ve been earlier in the book, or the book would’ve been longer, so that the story could continue and at least feel complete. Some people may have liked the surprise, and the quick, unexpected ending, but for me, I needed more to have closure with the book.

As for the writing, I read two reviews for this book which used phrases that I thought described the prose perfectly: stream of consciousness, and minimalistic. It really is just Ethan’s mind, describing this massive event in his life, how he sees it. Sometimes there are short sentences, almost jot notes from his thoughts. And some of the chapters are very short.


This was a fairly fast paced, intriguing read that I really enjoyed. I liked Ethan, and I really liked the other characters he meets. I was a bit upset with the way she ended the book, and the safeness of the plot. But, in the end, I would definitely recommend this book, especially to anyone who likes a mix of contemp. and mystery.

4 birds


Review of Deadly Little Secret by Laurie Faria Stolarz

Deadly Little Secret (Touch #1) by Laurie Faria StolarzDeadly Little Secret (Touch, #1)

Date Published: December 23, 2008
Genre: Young Adult Contemporary/Mystery
Pages: 252
Source: Library

Some secrets shouldn’t be kept…

Up until three months ago, everything in sixteen-year-old Camelia’s life had been fairly ordinary: decent grades; an okay relationship with her parents; and a pretty cool part-time job at the art studio downtown. But when Ben, the mysterious new guy, starts junior year at her high school, Camelia’s life becomes anything but ordinary.
Rumored to be somehow responsible for his ex-girlfriend’s accidental death, Ben is immediately ostracized by everyone on campus. Except for Camelia. She’s reluctant to believe the rumors, even when her friends try to convince her otherwise. She’s inexplicably drawn to Ben…and to his touch. But soon, Camelia is receiving eerie phone calls and strange packages with threatening notes. Ben insists she is in danger, and that he can help–but can he be trusted? She knows he’s hiding something… but he’s not the only one with a secret.
From the best-selling author of Blue is for Nightmares comes a story of paranormal romance that’s sure to be a thrilling and chilling teen favorite. (Goodreads)
I picked this book up as an impromptu from a library down in the States when I was visiting. I had heard some good things and decided it might be an interesting read. 
I think I was hoping for more than I got. The book has an interesting plot, but it could have been better. It seemed to follow the mold that all the other YA supernatural books do – new boy or new girl meets boy or girl, falls in love, but there is something dangerous about the boy that must be figured out, and while in the end it threatens to tear them apart, they stick out their love for each other.
The one thing I did appreciate about this particular YA was that there was a unique twist at the end that brought the book together and made it a bit more memorable than some others. 
3 birds
Mhm. Okay. Flip a coin. Heads – bird wins. Tails – it’s mine.